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QB gives Arizona edge over Beavers

Good news is developing for NFL scouts. The quarterback crop report in college football is incredibly promising, with plenty of prospects lining up behind Stanford star Andrew Luck.

It’s probably more accurate to refer to Luck as a superstar. He makes Mel Kiper Jr.’s hair stand up, and his status as the eventual No. 1 draft pick is a virtual lock.

Running backs never will go the way of dinosaurs. But it’s obvious the NFL has become more than pass happy — it is euphoric about its emphasis on strong-armed quarterbacks — and every team is hunting for a gunslinger for the future.

The Pacific-12 Conference probably has better passers than the NFC West. Luck and Southern California’s Matt Barkley are lighting up defenses. Arizona senior Nick Foles does not attract the same type of hype, mostly because the Wildcats’ defense gets lit up as the losses pile up.

“Foles has got a cannon for an arm,” said handicapper Chuck Edel (SportsXRadio.com). “They are getting their butts kicked, and teams know they are throwing the ball, but Foles still has not been throwing picks.”

Foles has attempted 236 passes in five games, completing 72 percent for 1,877 yards and 14 touchdowns, with two interceptions. But the Wildcats are 1-4 and have dropped nine of their past 10 games.

Arizona coach Mike Stoops has a defense that bends and breaks and ranks in the nation’s bottom 10 by allowing 504 yards and 37.6 points per game. But of the Wildcats’ past nine losses, eight were to Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford and USC.

“Their defense has been pretty putrid. But those are pretty good offenses,” Edel said. “You would think it’s a good spot for Arizona.”

Edel expects Foles to finally lead the Wildcats to a win as 2-point favorites at Oregon State on Saturday. The Beavers are winless, and Arizona looks more appealing in a battle of bet-against teams.

“Compared to what the Wildcats were running against, this is a drop in class,” Edel said. “But I’m not a big fan of Stoops. Almost every close game he’s in, he loses. That is a negative.”

The top quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference don’t play for Alabama or Louisiana State. Flip a coin between Arkansas junior Tyler Wilson and Georgia sophomore Aaron Murray.

Wilson threw for 510 yards in the Razorbacks’ comeback victory over Texas A&M last week. Edel said Wilson will rip an Auburn defense that has allowed 34 points or more in three of five games.

“I think Wilson will have a field day against Auburn,” said Edel, who likes Arkansas as a 10-point home favorite. The line opened at 8.

The Big 12 features at least three top pro passing prospects in Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. On the rise is Missouri sophomore James Franklin.

The Tigers are 3½-point favorites at Kansas State, which is 4-0 and ranked after upsetting Baylor. Edel prefers the Tigers off a bye.

“Franklin can run and he can throw, and he reminds me a little bit of Chase Daniel or Brad Smith. He has improved since the first game,” Edel said. “Kansas State played a couple nobodys to start the year and gave up a bunch of yards.”

Jones and the Sooners are 10½-point favorites over Texas in the Red River Rivalry in Dallas. The total is 57. I’m not recommending a side but did find something potentially useful while doing research.

WhatIfSports.com offers statistical simulations and predictions for each week’s games. Its computer simulated the Oklahoma-Texas matchup 101 times, and the Sooners won 82.2 percent of the time by an average score of 33-22.

Computer projections can spit out helpful information, but they can’t completely replace situational handicapping and what we view with our own eyes.

Aside from some of the quarterbacks already mentioned, I see Wisconsin senior Russell Wilson as a future NFL starter.

Also keep a close eye on these guys: Alex Carder (Western Michigan), Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), Case Keenum (Houston), Ryan Lindley (San Diego State) and Kellen Moore (Boise State).

■ CLOSING NUMBERS — Don’t look for outstanding quarterback play in the Ohio State-Nebraska game. The Buckeyes are so bad offensively, I’ll back the Cornhuskers as 11-point home favorites.

At 15-11-2 for the season, I’ll throw out four more plays for Saturday (home team in CAPS):

Iowa (+4) over PENN STATE; UTAH (+4) over Arizona State; Unlv-UNR (Over 55); NORTHWESTERN (+7½) over Michigan.

Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts the “Las Vegas Sportsline” weeknights at midnight on KDWN-AM (720) and thelasvegassportsline.com.

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